“I’m from Arkansas.” “Oh, where is that again?”

“I’m from Arkansas.”

“Oh, wow! That must be quite the change.”

“This must be like night and day.”

“Oh, isn’t that by Florida?”

and my personal favorite “Do you guys, like..go out there?”

Any variation of this tends to be the very first comment I hear from someone I meet here in New York. And of course the sentiments about how different it is are true. It is different…But really? The “do you guys go out?” part. I mean, come on, we’re not that weird, I promise.

I’ve lived in NYC for two and a half months now and have learned some valuable things about how it differs from my home state and, more importantly, how it’s really pretty similar.

1) The most obvious difference: prices. Anything and everything is more expensive here. One random exception I’ve noticed is that you can find super cheap manicures and pedicures. I’m assuming those are just sketchy nail salons but I’ve seen a lot of them. Other than that, you have to be prepared to spend more money than you would pretty much anywhere else. Hair cuts are more expensive, clothes are more expensive, food is way more expensive (but so worth it). Oh and renting an apartment? Absolutely ridiculous.

Afford NY

2) The dogs. A lot of NY apartments aren’t big enough for a decent sized living area (Exhibit A: my apartment), much less big enough for a large dog. The dogs here tend to be tiny and adorable, just how I like them. I’ve noticed a lot of french bulldogs, pugs, yorkies and cocker spaniels. Plus, maybe it’s the dirty streets or maybe just because New York dogs are more fashionable than most humans other places, but a lot of dogs I’ve seen have been wearing tiny little boots. Come on…it can’t get cuter than a pug in boots.

3) Brunch. Brunch is a dearly loved event in the city. I know people everywhere eat brunch but it isn’t just a meal in New York, it’s a social-event craze like no other. Brunch is pretty much code for a recover-from-last-night-and-stuff-your-face ritual. It isn’t right unless it’s “bottomless” – unlimited food and mimosas. Pretty much every established restaurant or cafe in the city comes equipped with a brunch deal where you can get an entree, coffee and a mimosa (or other drink) for a set price. A couple of my favorite brunch spots so far: #1) East End Kitchen in the UES, where Charles and I enjoyed a brunch pizza, delicious French toast and drinks for a great price and #2) Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village, where you can get coffee + an entree + bread/croissant + mimosa for $22.

Brunch1 Brunch2

4) Energy. There’s a reason they call it the city that never sleeps. There’s a certain energy to New York that is contagious, exciting and very unique. And, in general, you just get less sleep if you’re a 20-something in NYC. Unlike Dickson Street in Fayetteville, where going out at 11:30 is considered late, 11:30 here is early. Most clubs don’t even open until 11 and it doesn’t get really going until at least 1 in the morning. New Yorkers do more after midnight than most people do in their entire day. Thankfully, my roommates in NYC broke me of my habit of going out at 10 PM. Thank goodness for them.

Energy

5) Viewpoints. This may be another pretty obvious difference but it’s importance is pretty big to me. I’ve heard a lot of differing, even totally new, viewpoints on topics while I’ve been here. The three interns I worked with this summer were from Connecticut, California and Minnesota originally, which means we’re spread out all over the map and have all had the chance to hear and share different opinions on things. I’ve loved being able to hear different, unique opinions and reasons backing them up. It’s a great way to consider new perspectives and grow.

6) Public bathrooms. Just no. They don’t exist. I’ve seen maybe one the entire time I’ve been here and it was in Central Park. If you’re anywhere else that doesn’t have a Starbucks close by, you’re kind of out of luck in terms of using the bathroom.

But enough about what makes us different. Despite what some people seem to think, NY and AR do share some qualities.

1) Well, for one, the hospitality. This one surprised me and will probably surprise others but I mean it 100%. Everyone warns you to prepare for a huge difference from the “southern hospitality” you’re used to, where people go out of their way to be nice to you and help you. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve really not noticed this extreme difference everyone stresses. People have offered directions, offered information about good restaurants and bars, and a random person stopped me on the street to tell me about free kayaking in the city because she heard me talking about it with a friend.

So, no, I’ve not felt this giant gap between New York and Arkansas and how kind people are. In fact, I’ve noticed such a big heart in New Yorkers, full of love for others and, especially, a love for New York.

I think the key difference here comes in the pace of the city and the time at which you meet people. It takes some getting used to always being in a rush or getting pushed by people who are (like when you’re trying to get on or off a Subway train). While some take this fast-paced mindset as a sign of unfriendliness, it is really just something you have to expect in a small area with so many people trying to get things done and go about their everyday lives. There is nothing really “mean” about it. Sure, people in NY can be somewhat more impatient than those in the south, but there are lots of places to be and people to see…so sometimes you just have to hurry up on the sidewalk so everyone can make it where they’re going.

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2) Family. People wonder what it would be like to raise a family in a place like New York. Although it’s hard to imagine being a parent in a place so crazy and busy, I can see from my short time here that New Yorkers place just as much importance on family. Maybe kids grow up to be have tougher skin and be a little more street smart (like learning not to approach strange looking people earlier on and learning how to navigate the Subway instead of learning how to drive a car). But, when it all comes down to it, you’ll still see quiet neighborhoods that are more family-oriented and tons of families fill up Central Park and other parks all over the city on the weekends.

I think recognizing these similarities is so important and really shows us the need for us to see what we have in common with people everywhere. That’s much more important than what makes us different. It allows us to relate, to form relationships, to learn from one another and to grow. If you need more evidence of this commonality I’m talking about, follow Humans of New York on Facebook or Instagram. There’s a reason each post about a person resonates so loudly with people from all over –  not just people from New York. There is a universal humanity that links us and gives us so much more to work with than all of our differences combined.

This is evidenced even more in the fact that New York is so incredibly diverse, with inhabits from every country you can imagine. Even with this diversity, the city retains this characteristic, iconic personality that makes it famous. Why? Because the similarities between all these people do more for this city than the differences.

“Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.” – E.B. White (1949).

 

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Apps That Can Save You 2 Precious Things: Time and Money

Dollar Shave Club recently asked me to write about different ways to “shave time and money”, something that I honestly paid no attention to until I graduated from college and realized my life kind of depends on it. It seems like I can never have quite enough time or money. Or if I do, I decide it to blow it all on something unnecessary, like binge-watching Netflix instead of using my time for something productive (but we’re all guilty of that, aren’t we?).

But don’t worry. If you’re like me and aren’t naturally inclined toward saving money or making the most of your time, you’re in luck. Interning at a start-up surrounded by other start-ups and apps has taught me that there are tons of apps out there I didn’t know about and most of them are, in fact, meant to save you time and money. Poor post-grads and young professionals of the world, it’s time to use these apps to our benefit. If you learn to save time here and there throughout the day, that leaves you with extra time at night to watch House of Cards or Game of Thrones. Or extra money to treat yourself to Chipotle for lunch. Or both if you’re really lucky.


Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 10.58.27 PMUber

If you live in a city where Uber has already taken off, you’ll know exactly why it’s on this list. If you don’t, just wait. You can use Uber to get a ride basically anywhere in your city using your phone. You connect your credit card to your account on the app, meaning you never have to pull out cash or worry about how to pay. The best part: if you live in NYC, using Uber instead of a regular taxi will actually save you money. That’s right. As of July 2014, Uber X (the low-fare Uber option) is cheaper than taking an NYC taxi. You can also get free rides on the app by getting your friends to use it. Next time you’re out at 2 a.m. trying to figure out how much your cab will cost (or how long it will take to find a cab at all), take Uber and rest easy knowing you saved some time and cash getting home.Venmo Logo

Venmo

Never again will you have to waste 20 minutes figuring out how to split a check between 10 friends at your favorite happy hour restaurant. Venmo allows you to pay your friends with the click of a button. Users connect their debit and credit cards and add friends on the app, allowing them to easily pay someone back. This can save you tons of time and stress. Plus, it’s totally safe, don’t worry.

Key Ring

Key Ring

You know all those plastic loyalty cards you use to get discounts or rewards at stores? Key Ring keeps you from having to pull out your key chain each time and shuffle through your membership and loyalty cards. You scan the barcodes from your cards and then can use that scanned barcode when you make a purchase in-store. But it doesn’t end there. Key Ring also has a database of coupons from tons of brands so you can save money and find good deals too. Win win! Waze

Waze

Your rush hour traffic nightmares are finally over! With Waze, drivers in your area share information about traffic and road conditions in real-time. A map with different symbols tells you what to expect ahead of you on your route home or leaving town. It can tell you if there is bad traffic, an accident or even a police trap. But we all know what we really want to save when it comes to driving – gas money. And Waze helps there too. You can also use the app to find the cheapest gas station on your route. Time to drive happy!

Mint

Mint

This one is essential to managing (and saving) your money. Mint is a personal finance management app. You enter your account information (you can add checking, savings, credit cards, investments and retirement) and Mint automatically detects when you spend money and what you spend it on. It enters your transactions for you without you doing a thing! This allows you to track your spending habits and see which areas are out of hand (Fast food and Starbucks, for example). You can create a budget for yourself as well to help you stay on track. I actually kind of think this app was made for me. Thanks, Mint, that’s so sweet of you.

RedLaser

RedLaser

I can just see it now…one of the worst shopping scenarios: You buy some cute shoes and are telling your friends about them only to find out your bff got the exact same pair for half the price somewhere else. Sometimes, especially when it comes to clothes, it’s better to treat yourself to higher quality items. But when it is available at exactly the same quality for a lower price, well then it’s silly not to take the deal. RedLaser will save you time you usually spend comparing prices at different stores. You can scan an item’s barcode and instantly see where else you can find it and for how much. You can quickly find the best prices and deals all over your area. You can be sure you’re getting the best deal because the app includes price comparisons at local AND online locations. It’s like having a personal assistant do all the work for you, but…it’s fo FREE.

Poach It

PoachIt

Speaking of shopping for clothes…PoachIt is so necessary for finding good deals on clothes. Here’s how it works: you scan the barcode of an item you like, the app finds the item online and sends you an alert when the product’s price drops or there is a coupon code you can use for it. What can be better than loving a dress and getting a notification sent to your phone when the dress gets cheaper? Pretty much nothing, in my opinion.

Just a note: you can use the app but there is also a PoachIt website. Also, you can add an item to your alert list with the click of a button while shopping online – you don’t have to be in the store to use it.

FastCustomer

FastCustomer

I don’t think a single person on Earth could say they enjoy waiting on hold to talk to a customer service rep. It’s even less fun when they ask you to push a million numbers just to hear you have to wait even longer to talk to a live person. FastCustomer actually does all the waiting for you, so you don’t have to waste your precious life on hold. You tell the app who you need to talk to (as specific as a particular department within the company) and they do the navigation to a live customer service rep. Then the app calls you back once they have someone on the line ready to talk to you. Genius, just genius.

I hope these apps can be useful to all my fellow young adults struggling to find ways to survive in this post-allowance place we call the real world. Save money on gas and clothes and you might just be able to toss the Ramen and indulge in some real food. Shave some of your time off commuting or on hold and you’ll have more time to dedicate to the Underwoods. Whatever you decide to spend your extra time and money on, be sure to have fun with it!

Of course, I can’t end this without a shout out to Dollar Shave Club, the company that inspired this post. If you don’t know about them, what they do is save you time and money (just like these apps) by shipping quality razors to you each month for low prices. Might just have to check them out to shave some money!